To start off this post, lets look at different media vehicles and examine how you experience advertisements:
- Television: advertisements appear as commercials in “pods” which run in breaks of scheduled content. Additionally, you can buy your way into programs through product placement and integration. The majority of dollars however is in commercial advertising (30 second spots).
- Print: advertisements appear as images on pages; sometimes these are full page ads, others are smaller such as ¼ pages. Advertisers can sometimes cross the church/state editorial boundaries and influence certain articles, however this is a commonly frowned upon practice. The majority of print advertising dollars is in the advertising on the page (full page ads).
- Radio: Similar to television, Radio allows for advertisers to purchase time between breaks of scheduled content and in addition, radio hosts can do on-air reads of certain messaging which is similar to a product placement/integration. The majority of radio advertising is run during pods between scheduled content.
- Digital: There are a myriad of different types of advertising but to keep it simple, there are IAB standard ad units (which have scaled as banners) and custom units which generally appear on the same pages as content and /or between pages. Search creative, excluded.
Beyond some of the intricate differences which can be extracted above, there is another difference I’d like to highlight: viewability. Is the advertisement that you (as agency/marketer) are serving being seen by the viewer.
This is a big question. In non-digital channels such as the above, we can pretty much guarantee that if the viewer is present in the room (TV/Radio), reading the magazine/newspaper, have the opportunity to hear or see the advertisement. However, with digital, even if you are in front of the computer or mobile device that is accessing content and actively engaging with it, you might not be able to see an advertisement but that advertisement is being counted as an impression.
This is big. Let me re-iterate.
Ads that are on the screen but out of viewing sight are still counted as impressions; consequently, you as a marketer or agency pay for them.
Most 3rd party ad serving systems (MediaMind, DART, Atlas) today do not measure viewability in their current form. MediaMind informed me that they do have a Visibility metric but that costs additional to the typical ad serving setup. It’s also relatively new. We typically have to get the viewability metric through Advertisement Verification partners such as AdXpose (Comscore) or DoubleVerify. Over time, I imagine that this metric will be a commonplace in the ad serving system, but right now, it’s not.
This has come to be an issue as publishers try to cram more advertisements on a page. The more advertisements there are, the more ad slots, and the more ad slots, the deeper down on a page they are served. Theoretically, if you can fill all the ad slots with paying ads, you can derive more revenue from each visitor. You can’t fault publishers for trying to make more money from their content.
There are a few solves here for viewability:
- 3rd Party Ad Serving Systems add in the viewability metric into their reporting either by acquiring or partnering with Ad Verification companies or build their own solution. This should be standard in all reports pulled about a campaign performance. This should also directly impact campaign performance. Do you think engagement/CTR would go up? I do.
At my last company, IGA Worldwide, an in-game advertising firm, we built a 3rd party ad serving solution or console and PC based video games. For an impression to count for an advertiser, it had to meet minimum thresholds of size of screen, angle it’s on screen, and time on screen. I don’t see why we can’t carry much of that over to the display side of business.
- Publishers are forecefully limited to the amount of ads on a page, or the places that the ads appear. I dislike this solution as it plays itself out anyway. Theoretically, if an advertisement is served but not seen, the performance of the ad will be very low. If it’s (performance) low, then the marketer/agency will probably cancel or optimize the ad. It’ll be fixed basically anyway. Also, I don’t like top down approaches.
Viewability is going to become increasingly important if the iGRP becomes a common trading currency in digital media. Apparently, brand marketers want to shift large volumes of dollars to digital and they want to do it using iGRP’s instead of performance metrics.
If you aren’t measuring viewability for your iGRP’s, then as an agency or marketer, you are likely to get burned.
If you have worked in digital marketing, you probably have run a banner campaign at some point
- ComScore Just Spend $22 Million To Make Sure People Are Actually Looking At Ads (SCOR) (businessinsider.com)